When it comes to buying or selling a home, spring is the season of “ready, set, go!” Kate Wall, a partner at the Berg Larsen Group, walks us through the process. Having lived in seven states and owned six homes, Kate’s knowledge and experience extend far beyond her 11 years as a Realtor.

Looking to buy?

Explore the neighborhood

Whether you’re considering a move across the country or just to a new neck of the woods, the first step is pinning down neighborhoods and discovering your priorities. Kate emphasizes the importance of driving through the area at different times of the day, different days of the week, and even during your typical commute time. Get acquainted with the grocery stores, restaurants, and parks. You’ll pick up on the vibe as you visit the area with your own routine in mind.

Connect with a real estate agent

Once you’ve narrowed down your search to specific neighborhoods, it is time to reach out to a real estate agent. Asking friends and family for recommendations is a great place to start. Over 90% of our clients were referred to us by people in their circle; tapping into your network can connect you with the agent that’s right for you. Your real estate agent will be able to show you live listings in the MLS and gauge price ranges for that area. Now that you have an agent on your team, it’s time to meet with lenders and get your ducks in a row.

Connect with lenders

It’s smart to talk with at least two lenders before deciding who to work with. Kate mentions that lenders may offer programs for different types of professions such as educators or physicians, and many have first-time home buyer programs. The Berg Larsen Group can offer several names of lenders that we’ve worked with in the past to kick off your search. After choosing a lender that meets your needs, they can walk you through the pre-approval process.

Get pre-approved

To put it simply, pulling credit is what happens during the pre-approval process. “Lenders are going to ask for two years of tax returns, two months of pay stubs, and access to bank accounts and investment accounts.” In addition to that information, you may be prompted to get an employment letter if you’re changing jobs, or a rental statement if you are currently leasing. Gathering those materials for lenders takes time, but “if you’ve gathered it for one, you’ve gathered for the rest.” Every situation is different, but timing is the denominator. Whether you’re ending a lease or have a house to sell before you move, getting pre-approved allows you to act quickly when the right opportunity comes along.

Your timeline depends on your living arrangements

Are you currently living in a home or renting an apartment? If so, it is time to put things in motion. As a homeowner, you will need to sell your house either before or after purchasing a new one. In some cases not selling your house prior to closing on a new home means that you may be approved for less. If you are currently leasing, you need to consider whether you are willing to break your lease or if you should wait to begin your house-hunting endeavor.  In these situations, your lender and real estate agent can help advise your next step. Although it is critical to be proactive while looking for your new home, Kate discourages clients from looking to move before their loose ends are tied.

 Is this the home for you? Answer “yes” to these three questions

Once the logistics of your move have been sorted out, finding your future home is the top priority. When you find a house that you love, but it doesn’t check off everything on your list, ask yourself these questions: Is the home in the area where you want to live? Is it in your price range? Does it meet your lifestyle needs? If you can say yes to these questions, you’ve found the house for you!

Kate reminds clients, “Don’t disregard it because it doesn’t have every single thing on your list.” Part of our job as your Realtor is to help you see your full potential. We encourage our clients to live in their house for a year before embarking on any big changes as a means to  “see how you actually live in it.” When we find a home that has your essentials, we can craft an offer and close the deal. 

Understanding Fees and Costs

As a buyer, you are responsible for brokerage fees, closing costs, your share of prorated property taxes, homeowners insurance, and mortgage tax. In addition, buyers deposit their earnest money which is usually 1-3% of the purchase price. This money must be liquid because once the offer is submitted, it is held in a trust account by the listing broker’s office. An often overlooked cost is the price of inspections. Many buyers will choose from a variety of inspections - home, sewer line, radon, and chimney is the most common. The total cost for these inspections can range from $500-$1,500 or more. Finally, Kate reminds buyers that “once you have an accepted purchase agreement, never open a new line of credit, quit your job, or make a large purchase such as a new car.” A week prior to closing, lenders are going to check on your employment status and pull credit again.

Ready to Sell

Find the best-fit Realtor to help you sell your home

Asking friends and family is the best place to start your Realtor search. Knowing that your friends and family have had a positive experience with a particular real estate agent builds trust and confidence. Kate recommends that every seller interviews at least two Realtors before making their choice. Our agents want to learn more about who you are and how you live; visiting your home is an integral part of our process.

Kate puts in a shameless plug for the Berg Larsen Group. “We are a team working for you.” In addition to our partners and real estate agents, our Transaction Coordinator, Krista Eull, and our Office Manager, Deb Shafer, are licensed real estate agents which means we can all respond to your questions and take care of details.

“Easing stress when you’re buying or selling a home is our top priority. Between our responsiveness, attention to detail, and years of experience, our team won’t let anything slip through the cracks.”

Stay ahead of the curve

When choosing a real estate agent, don’t forget to ask about their digital marketing capabilities. “The first place anyone sees a house is online” and your digital first impression is extremely important. Brandon, our Digital Marketing Manager, uses Matterport technology, drones, and professional high-end photographers to ensure that your house stands out. Part of the digital marketplace is access to an abundance of information and options. Utilizing the latest technology is essential in capturing buyers’ attention in a saturated market. You can read more about Brandon and our digital marketing strategies here.

What our clients say

Recently, one of our clients told us that “when push comes to shove, you need someone who knows the landscape, that gives you guidance and advice that ultimately gives you peace of mind.” No matter your goals, Kate emphasizes that “we can help.”

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